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Festival of Trees was a success even in tough times

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County celebrated its 11th annual Festival of Trees in early December. The community came together to support the nonprofit organization’s mission to match children with mentors in the community.

Guests agreed that it was an appropriate kick-off to the holiday season as they bid on uniquely decorated trees and other auction items.

One of the highlights was this year’s fund-a-match presentation. Big Brother Dustin Chapman checked in via video from his deployment with the U.S. Navy, while his Little Derek was there in person to tell the crowd about how Dustin had changed his life.

Touched by their story, Jerry Recker of Chugach Industries bid and won one of the wonderful trees and gave it to Derek and his family.

Executive Director Peggy Dyer said due to the economic challenges, it has been a particularly rough year for the families that the organization serves, perhaps the toughest year in the agency’s 11-year history in Island County. Yet, the guests at our auction gala event lifted their paddles to bid on the many wonderful items and trees donated by local businesses and individuals.

“There is always magic in the air during the Festival of Trees season,” Dyer said. “It seems that the community knows this event needs to be a successful fundraiser to support our services through the upcoming year, and they always step up and make it a joyous event.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters raised nearly $70,000. This money will pay for professional support of our matches, as well as background checks and insurance, ensure one-on-one, ongoing supervision and support for every match, and provide cultural and social activities to enrich the opportunities for children.

Thanks to the community’s generosity, the agency will continue to serve the community in 2010 as it has for the past 11 years. To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County, contact 279-0644, or bbbs@whidbey.net, or visit them on the Web at www.bbbsislandcounty.org.

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